Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Campus Life - College fiction

As the nights get cooler and the leaves start blowing around my yard, I get nostalgic to go back to school. I envision the ivy covered buildings and green grass of the Dalhousie University campus in September, with it's crowds of colourfully dressed, bright eyed students, all seemingly full of optimism and excitement. Ah it takes me back...

If you too are nostalgic for the campus life, consider one of these recent novels:

Waiting for the Revolution
by Sally Clark.

"Read Waiting for the Revolution for its recognizable, unforgettable characters and its trenchant immersion in a long-lost, free-spirited Toronto." - Globe and Mail

In the summer of 1974 straight-laced Jay doesn't like beer, doesn't do drugs, and finds the whole hip revolutionary concept a little convoluted. Shes an artist, but her realistic outlook and painting doesn't fit in with the art scene. It comes as no surprise that when she follows her high school crush from Victoria to the University of Toronto, expecting to fall in love, she is instead overwhelmed by throngs of hippies, judgmental art teachers, and boy-crazy sorority girls. With freewheeling attitudes towards sex and love swirling around her, Jay could not possibly be more confused about where she stands in the grand scheme of things. Sally Clark's novel perfectly captures a sexual and social revolution that was not all it was cracked up to be.

Cum Laude
by Cecily von Ziegesar

"Gossip Girl goes to college in this tart satire of the class of 2014, centering on four mixed-up Dexter College freshmen who stumble through their first semester trying on life, love, and drugs. There's pretty rich girl Shipley, rebel-without-a-cause Eliza, repressed-artist Tom, and hippie-spawn Nick.

With a total population of only nineteen hundred, Dexter was a small college in a small town, but it still felt overwhelming compared to high school, the kids discover, but the really scary bit is the newfound freedom—from families, histories, and their adolescent identities. In real life, this might be where the adults come in handy, but at Dexter, teachers (other than lesbian Professor Rosen) are nearly nonexistent, and the folks at home are distracted, disillusioned, or dolts.

Plenty of Animal House antics and wiseacre banter keep this light and breezy, but von Ziegesar, whose Gossip Girl novels spawned the megahit TV series, adds a crisp and surprisingly steely edge that keeps the precocious teens from devolving entirely into smug knuckleheads. --Publishers Weekly

Death without Tenure
by Joanne Dobson

Professor Karen Pelletier is preparing to fulfill her dream of a tenured position in the English department of Enfield College, a prestigious New England institution. As she assembles her dossier, she learns that her rival for the chair, Native American professor Joseph Lone Wolf, has died of a peyote overdose. His minority status gave him an advantage and puts Karen at the top of the suspect list. A homicide detective with a grudge against her cop boyfriend, Lieutenant Charlie Piotroski, who is away serving in the National Guard in Iraq, makes sure that she stays on the A-list. Meanwhile, the petty squabbles of academia rage as the politically correct chair of the department and the Distinguished Visiting Professor of Whiteness Studies argue over the course list, and two of Karen’s favorite students, a Muslim woman and a coal-miner’s son, get caught up in the squabble.

Dobson, who teaches at Fordham University, provides an amusing and accurate view of academia with her au courant plot and colorful characters." - Booklist

The Raising : a novel
by Laura Kasischke

"Haunting, unsettling, and unforgettable, "The Raising" limns love, longing, belonging and the things we only think we know about life--and yes, death. . . it's a literary mystery that's as hypnotic as it is brilliant."--Caroline Leavitt, author of "Pictures of You."

"Last year Godwin Honors Hall was draped in black. The university was mourning the loss of one of its own: Nicole Werner, a blond, beautiful, straight-A sorority sister tragically killed in a car accident that left her boyfriend, who was driving, remarkably--some say suspiciously--unscathed. Although a year has passed, as winter begins and the nights darken, obsession with Nicole and her death reignites: She was so pretty. So sweet-tempered. So innocent. Too young to die. Unless she didn't. Because rumor has it that she's back."--Publisher.

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